Baking challah: One generation to the next

"When my grandmother found out I was becoming frum, her love didn't diminish an ounce (despite the fact that she lived a different lifestyle)," writes a blogger known as the Itsy Bitsy Balebusta. "When I introduced her to the love of my life she had three questions: Does he love you? Does he respect you? Does he make you happy? That's all that she needed to know. Sure we couldn't eat food from her kitchen, a valued aspect of Portuguese culture, but we're her grandkids and that's all that ever mattered.

"The first time my grandmother ever came to my apartment I gave her a loaf of Challah and the pride in her eyes was all the confirmation I needed that regardless of my life choices she still loved me. Every time I would bring a homemade Challah to my parents house for dinner she would stare at it with admiration, and gave me the only compliment that I had ever hoped for, 'It takes just like mine!'

"The image of my grandmother making her bread (massa) in her kitchen, hair wrapped up, patchwork blankets covering large aluminum bowls everywhere, and the smell of the bread rising is something I hope to keep with me forever."

Some of the things the blogger wrote about her grandmother really struck me and resonated with me, reminding me of descriptions of the great-grandmother I never met. "When my grandmother found out I was becoming frum, her love didn't diminish an ounce [despite the fact that she lived a different lifestyle]," writes the blogger. "There aren't enough words to celebrate how amazing she was."

My mother describes her grandmother, Yetta z"l in similar terms. Only back when she was growing up it was the opposite: her grandmother lived with the family and only she kept kosher, so she had her own set of dishes.

Once I asked my Mom why she always spoke so glowingly of Yetta. Astonished by the question, she answered with a faraway gaze: "She always loved us for what we were." Maybe that's what a grandmother's all about.


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